A sacrificial care for one another

Why do we care? Why do we care about anything? Why not be indifferent about everything all the time! I think it’s easy these days to make excuses about not caring, even if it means that we’re indifferent to others. After all, we’re all very busy – we’re time poor – and don’t get around to doing things, even the things we want to do. Our own business these days seems to be a legitimate excuse not to care.

But ‘caring’ is something that Christians should care about. We’re told to care. But it’s not just caring that we are exhorted to undertake. It is a kind of caring that goes above and beyond, a care that features a sacrificial component to it, something that calls us to lend our lives to others who need it, and even to those who we sometimes find it difficult to care about.

Paul talks about ‘caring’, amongst other godly characters at the end of his letters: “Bear one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2), “…bearing with one another in love…” (Eph. 4:2), “And we urge you…encourage the fainthearted, help the weak…” (1 Thess. 5:14), “Do not neglect to do good, and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”  (Heb. 13:16).

Paul continues in his exhortation by way of example, mentioning those who have demonstrated sacrificial care to him: “I [Paul] rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me…I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Phil. 3:10, 18).

So demonstrating a sacrificial care for others, and in particular, for one another – those who belong to God through Jesus Christ – is a key characteristic of the Christian life. Christians are meant to do it. But demonstrating a sacrificial care for others is not something that is seldom or that is done at random. It is a key characteristic that should be shown often or frequently and with great intention.

He reason why we should demonstrate a sacrificial care for one another is because of who God is and how he relates to us. God himself shows to us that he cares for us. The Bible speaks of God, who cares for people deeply, even when it is not reciprocated. In fact, this is in spite of non-reciprocity.

Paul talks about this great characteristic and practice of God that he himself trusts: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

God cares for us. God cares for us in our times of need. God comforts us in our afflictions with his mercy. So we can come to him with our cares and frailties and find mercy. And most notably, God sacrificially cared for us through his Son, Jesus Christ, not weighing our merits, but bearing the burden of our inadequacies, even pardoning our offences. God went above and beyond with a care for us that responded to a need, and a deep-seated need at that. Something in which we could not rescue ourselves from, the mess we call our sin in this sin-scarred world in which we live.

But the text goes on to say that this care that God shows us is powerful. This is because it is a reason for us to mobilise our often shaky bodies, so that we can demonstrate the sacrificial care that God has for one another. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – the way in which God has shown sacrificial care to us – is the message of comfort and the motivation to act for one another in love.

So carry God message of care with you, as the message of salvation and the motivation to sacrificially care for others in any time of need.

And when we sometimes fail at this, making excuses that appear legitimate so as not to care for one another, rest on God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, knowing that he claims you a one of his precious children in whom he sacrificially cares.

Below is a prayer that might come in handy, you may wish to pray to God now.

Our Father in Heaven.  We praise you as the God of comfort, love, and compassion.  We thank you because in your son, you have generously cared for us.  So please forgive us for those moments when we have claimed to love you, but we have been indifferent towards the needs of your children.  And in view of your mercy, we pray that you would strengthen us to care for another- with genuine love, in the strength of the Spirit, and with glad sacrifice.  May we love as you first loved us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.